Amla - Reetha - Shikakai Shampoo - Update

Such fine weather outside in Mumbai – makes me super lazy. I so wanna sit by a window sill with a nice Jane Austen novel & a cup of cocoa. :)

As some of you know, I have been using Amla – Reetha – Shikakai (ARS) decocotion to cleanse my hair. It has been over a month, I thought I would give you an update as well as answer some queries I have received on this.

First of all, I must say I am absolutely in love with this homemade shampoo. It smells earthy & woodsy, charmingly. My hair has never felt or looked better – it is more thicker, lush almost, easy to style, it looks healthy & bouncy. Also somehow I need to wash it less frequently now.


Earlier when I used shampoo (L’ Oreal Professional), my scalp would get really oily within 48 hours of washing, as a result my already fine hair would look limp & lifeless, necessitating a wash.

Such frequent washing over time, I believe, lead to my hair becoming very dry – I suffered from frizzy, dry hair, & my scalp would go into overdrive making even more oil – hence the endless parade of washing & conditioning every other day. Even then, my hair never really looked good.

I figured this out, when; due to an family emergency I was not able to make this ARS decoction for a week. When I use ARS I need to wash my hair once every 4-5 days (as opposed to the earlier once every 2 days with shampoo). I had to shampoo my hair – Lo & Behold – dry frizzy hair was back, and by end of day 2 so was the super oily scalp. Back I went to my ARS.

Making ARS is quite simple, but it takes long – the overnight soaking & all. But I found that this stays quite well when refrigerated, with no loss of potency. So now I make a batch on the weekend – enough for 2-3 washes & store it in the fridge. Whenever I have to wash my hair – I just take some out & warm it in the microwave before use (I noticed it works better when warm)

During the first few uses – it left my hair feeling a little dry – but over time my hair has adjusted so I feel no frizziness or driness. Just for the record – I have been using only this on my hair – no conditions or post wash serums. I just don’t feel the need.

During the 2nd or 3rd week I used an after rinse of lemon juice diluted in a cup full of water – but it left my hair feeling little oily so I never repeated it.

Ms. Gayathri who oils her hair a lot wanted to know if it cleanses the oil in first application:

I tried this once, I applied coconut oil overnight. Unfortunately it didn’t remove the oil well enough for me. I had to use a diluted solution of shampoo to do the needful.

Veena wanted to know how frequently one should use this:

I say go by how your hair feels. I use it whenever my hair starts to feel greasy – which is like once every 4-5 days. She also wanted the English names so here they are

Amla is Indian Gooseberry
Reetha is Chinese Soapberry, North Indian soapnut, Washing nuts
Shikakai is Soapnut/Acacia Concinna

Nisha wanted to know if it is safe to apply daily..

Honestly I don’t use this everyday coz my hair doesn’t feel that dirty or oil to wash daily. But I don’t think this would be harmful even if used daily. As I said – go by how clean or limp your hair feels. You’ll fall into a routine by yourself.

My hairfall has reduced, but has not been cured completely though.

Now my hair care routine is super simple – I just wash my hair with this. That’s it. I think I am done using commercial shampoos for a long time now. Loving this.

Now only if I could snuggle under a blanket near the window sill with a cup of cocoa & Jane Austen for company. *sigh*
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  1. nic article..very informative

  2. Tanveer, after reading your post, I bought a packet of Reetha powder from Khadi. Now...this is not actually powder, but kind of fine granule-ish. They also had Shikakai and amla powders there. Shall I buy all of those and mix together to use as it is. Or do you suggest I should make a decoction and use. I am kind of confused. PLz help.

    PS - I am so excited that this is working wonders for your hair...coz I am looking out for a good, originally "preservative free" shampoo. Thank you for this recipe :-)

  3. @GGG: Hey! :D

    Honestly I don't think you should use the powdered version of these - simply coz it just creates a mess - the powders will mix with the water to form a paste - which will be very difficult to wash out from your hair & will also mess up your entire bathroom. I have tried this in the past, like 3-4 yrs ago - I wld mix shikakai, Hibicus & amla powder in hot water, let it sit for 30 mins, before applying to damp hair - it wld just dry out my hair terribly and be a pain to remove. I gave up after trying twice.

    My advice is to go to any regular kirana store or an ayurvedic store & get these herbs whole & use them instead - the decoction is way easier to use & rinse, it also stores well in the fridge & your experince will be much better.

  4. @ tanveer
    After i read ur post, i had brought powdered form of amla, reetha n shikakai...i boiled it, let it down to cool strained n used....i found my hair much better after using this for wash! It does not remove oil n all....but for conditioning n works grt!
    Thanks for the useful tip!!! :)

  5. thanks for the update tanveer. i sure want to try this out now. anything for my hair :)

  6. Thanks for the help...So I think, these granules can be used for making I will try n get the other 2 ingredients as whole instead of powders..and make it :-)

  7. Hey Tanveer,

    You know i had tried this and given up on it. Mainly cause it seriously used to feel damn cool on the scalp, gave me goosebumps.So cold. And mine was only a reetha and shikakai concoction. The warming it up idea is good. Also it is kinda messy as the bits get stuck in your hair also make the floor messy :( but since it is doing wonders for your hair, think will try it after warming it. use amla powder??

    Anamika K,

  8. @Seema: I don't oil my hair these days - this shampoo works fine for me & removes all greasiness but never dries out my hair or makes me feel like I need oil in my hair..

    @IMW: Yup, I hope it works out just as well for you.

    @GGG: Yea, I hope it works out well for you. :)

    @Anamika: I always heat it before use & I also always strain the liquid before use - that way no bits get stuck in my hair when washing - I had mentioned this in my first post on this. I guess you missed it. Also I don't use amla powder, I use all three herbs in whole form. I had mentioned this too in my earlier post - I guess you didn't read it carefully :P LOL...

    you can read it here:

  9. @tanveer: thanks, nope i guess i missed the earlier post...this is neat, the straining and the warming...nice wala ideas :-) going to try this

  10. this sounds gud.. n nice it works well..wud try this sometime..thanks..

  11. has anyone tried shehnaz hussain's ''BEAUTY DRINK '' ............

  12. whoa! that sounds very impressive. my mother used this for a couple of washes but was too stressed out to make it a regular affair. what was surprising was the decent amount of lather that this shampoo gives off. for now, i think i'll stick to my regular shampoo (pink sunsilk). isn't giving me any problems!

  13. i used this once it made my hair dry :( so afraid i stopped using it from next time ... i'd try this in summers i guess when my hair would start producing natural oil more :)

    P.S - Thanks for following my blog :)

  14. wow...ur doing a good job...I shifted to reetha-shikakai a while back then they got over n again I had to shift back to shampoo coz of lack of time to buy a batch of soap nuts but they make the hair super shiny, soft and manageable.....
    I would like to address the concern of Gayathri...if you oil your hair, you would have to use the mixture lot of times and it would have to be lot more concentrated....I have used only soap nuts(reetha) + shikakai on my oily hair and it took 2-3 applications to remove the din leave my hair dry but rather conditioned...

  15. will definitely give this a try this weekend. thanks

  16. hi..i was so shocked to see Anamika comments and then i relaised that there r two anamika's in beauty blogs nowadays..i guess i should shorten my name now..
    i miss these things back..a year ago i was all about this only but beauty blogs changed me a lot:(

  17. @Bhumika: Thks.. Hope u like it :)

    @Bubbly Babe: Nope, I haven't tried any Shehnaz Hussain prdts, they don't impress me much - shoddy packaging, inflated prices & honestly Ms. SH freaks me out a bit with her pic on every jar. I so don't want to look like her.

    @Rima: Ohh, it lathers a lot when you prepare it, but not when applied to the hair. It requires a bit of planning, since the soaking period is a good 12 hours so.. yea, if your shampoo is suiting you, stick with it.

    I was having a lot of trouble with shampoos - they would make my hair feel very good, but for some reason were sending my scalp into an oil overdrive. Using a moisturising shampoo or conditioner wld just make my hair limp :(

    @Sherya: aww.. Yea, I guess not everything suits everyone.

    @PSCFY: I know, my hair feels very, very good after I use this. Thnks for addressing Gayathri's prob. I hope she finds it useful :)

    @Amel: Hope u like it :)

    @Anamika: Hey Anks! I know, 2 anamika's now :(.. But don't worry sweety I can always tell when it's you. Your comments are so full of positivity, warmth & honesty, & I always look forward to them.. Yup, blogging has changed us in some ways, we have come a long way, haven't we, from what we were quite some time ago?..

  18. hey happy that it works for you, me too lazy for this work :(

  19. @ Tanveer

    can we use this in oil like instead of making it a shampoo we can put these in oil ( mustard oil, almond oil or any other)
    do u have any idea of using them in oil or using them with henna..

    thnkx for such a nice tip..:)

    1. I don't know Mona, never used it that way :(

  20. Hi Tanveer,

    Great post! Thanks!
    Question: I have very dry hair, and now suffering with dandruff as well.
    Today, went to buy these super 3- but could get only amla and shikakai(no reetha). In that case, I understand from 1 of ur previous posts that 2:1 ratio for shikakai:amla will work. But, shall I use a regular shampoo for claening and then use the 2:1 mixture like a conditioner? OR is there a different way to use it?

  21. hay i read ur blog and started using this home made stuff but even when i washed my hairs everyday with this shampoo my hairs started to feel it normal at the start or is it only wht iam experiencing

    1. Hy Jane Austen

      I had the same problem but after several uses of ARS..Now its becoming more and more greasy with the continuous use..I really dont know what is the real issue bcoz the same amount did very well for my hairs at first but now all changed..for the time being, as a temporary solution, I use talcum powder in my hairs to remove all the greasy helps and I just do water spray again to make it regain its moisture since the powder tends to dry the you can try this..Meanwhile I am also trying to find out the sol..



    2. Hy Jane,

      I came across with the same issue but after many uses of ARS..I still dont know what is wrong with it since the same quantity/ratio did very well for me in the begininng...Someone told me to reduce the amount of Amla to 2 since its a conditioning agent and you can read what does over conditioning does to your hairs on internet...there is a little residue left on my hairs after this .. so you can try it!

      To remove the residue..what you can do is that you can sprinkle some talcum powder in your hairs and then later spray little water so taht it regains its moisture since, powder tends to dry out hairs too much..
      it works for me really well..and I am doing this bcoz I dont want to shift back to my regular harsh shampoo..meanwhile I am trying to search for the solution..

      Another important point..never ever wet your hairs before the application AND try not to use refigerated ARS..thats what I am doing these days..

      THANKS..I hope it will solve your prob


  22. hay after using this 2 times my hair started feeking oily is it normal and it will go away or just me

  23. I want to comment on this as I have been using shikakai from a very long time.I suggest you to use little of reetha to more of shikakai as it dries up hair a lot. Say, if you use 5 shikais then you must use only 1 or 2 reethas.You can also add the country hibiscus leaves by crushing them and adding water and straining the slimy fluid. Flower of this plant is red in colour and have only one whorl of petals.If you have oiled your hair, mixie the boiled concoction with hibiscus juice. It will lather well. You strain well and then use. Most of the South Indians use shikakai powder. They also mix chigare powder to this. Wash well after use and comb your hair when nearly dry. The residue will fall off. Ps:- Amla does not help in lathering either.

  24. tanveer now let me know can i mix this amla and shikakai mixture( which is totally strained) in a littlle shampoo and use it? will it work equally good?

  25. hi tanveer,
    thanks for the wonderful post.
    can v shampoo our hair twice a week with regular shampoo along with amla shikakai?
    and are serums harmful?


  26. Lovely post!
    As a adolescent, I had always used the mixture of reetha and shikakai to was my hair, and boy did I have a super awesome mop of hair!
    Then with college, exams and agressive shampoo marketing, I began to believe shampoos are great and better and forgot all about this. Needless to say, my hair reduced in volume, which I attributed to the stress of medical school, hostel life, irregular meals, disturbed sleep, irregular oiling of hair, so on and so forth.
    I have changed shampoos after shampoo but still lost clumps and clumps of hair during shampooing as well as post shampoo

    Then again, I remembered this holy potion after 15 years of hair loss and I tried it on last week. And I really cannot believe I lost hardly any hair during the wash, and few strands post wash.

    I had applied a lot of oil and could wash it all off. Thats because my mix was a bit more concentrated than yours. I added 4 reetha, 5 shikaki to a coffee mug full of water, roughly 250 to 300 ml. Boiled it, prepared a decoction. Again soaked the remaining pulp of the nuts in same amount of warm water. It took me 3 rinses to get my hair squeaky clean, and I swear by anything you ask me to, my hair was cleaned of every bit of oil I had applied.

    For those who have read this post, do try it. You have to see the effects to note the difference

  27. Hey!

    I used to use this shampoo with similar (awesome) results as a teenager while I was living in India. I just wanted to mention from my experience that the dryness can be controlled by increasing the amount of reetha (from what I remember as it was like a decade ago; I am not very sure as it could be the alma content as well). Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that increasing one of the ingredients (most likely the Reetha) wouldn't dry your hair as much and would condition it more even initially.

    Currently I am in the States and do not have that easy access to dry Amla, Reetha and Shikakai and hence, can't make it. Next time I visit home (India), gonna get a big bag of these materials as I wanna start taking care of my skin and hair once again.

  28. even i oil my hair overnight and it is very difficult to remove the oil but i finally found the way!!!!!(yipee!!!)..
    in my first application i leave it for a couple minutes and then wash it my 2nd application i concentrate the liquid in a particular area of the head and rub it( it forms lather) and continue it all around the head...the hair definately feels tangled and very dry but after i wash it off its fine....just to make sure my hair is clean thoroughly(i tried it once and u need not do it anyways) i took a very small amount of the liqud and rubbed it against my scalp, it lathered profusely. Basically, repeat the 1st two steps n u r done!!!

  29. I used it twice. BT it makes my hair little dry... I hav too much hairfall and dandruff... Approx 200 strands per day... Can I reduce hairfall using dis decoction?

  30. I too have been in and out of my relationship with reetha, and have experimented a lot...yupp...
    1. If you love oiling your hair overnight, use some paste of multani mitti(20mins) before washing your hair with the ARS concoction.
    2. I tend to use a drugstore conditioner after hairwash to get the regular soft silky hair
    3. Hairfall is tremendously reduced after using this solution.
    4. Refrigerate this mixture, or freeze them in icecubes

  31. I too have been in and out of my relationship with reetha, and have experimented a lot...yupp...
    1. If you love oiling your hair overnight, use some paste of multani mitti(20mins) before washing your hair with the ARS concoction.
    2. I tend to use a drugstore conditioner after hairwash to get the regular soft silky hair
    3. Hairfall is tremendously reduced after using this solution.
    4. Refrigerate this mixture, or freeze them in icecubes

  32. Hi Tanveer, thank you for these helpful posts abt ARS. Can one using this regularly, style their hair as usual using hair dryer/iron?

  33. Hi Tanveer, thank you for these helpful posts abt ARS. Can one using this regularly, style their hair as usual using hair dryer/iron?

  34. Hi Tanveer, thank you for these helpful posts abt ARS. Can one using this regularly, style their hair as usual using hair dryer/iron?

  35. Does this work on split ends


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